Everyone has a plan in mind when applying for an MBA programme – and maybe some doubts too. But the truth is that studying for an MBA may help you find a business partner, come up with a business idea, get hired by the company of your dreams, or find yourself undergoing some personal or professional change.
You can never predict when everything you’re studying in your MBA will suddenly click into place, but for UK-based MBA student Stephen Sonsino it happened in the accident and emergency department of a central England hospital. His is one of the many MBA stories of personal change. Contemplating the inch-long splinter under his fingernail, it suddenly downed on Stephen that change management was the most important thing he was learning, along with the vital contribution that the personal communication modules were making to his skills portfolio. Above all, he was learning to listen better, and this was the key to the effective networking that he knew was essential to his personal and professional progress. So what is the moral of the story? Take some time out from the hectic programme to do some reflecting. Hopefully you won’t need to go to a hospital to do so!
Check out: What is the Best Age to Get an MBA? (Video)
Coming up with a business idea
We’ve all heard MBA stories about networking, and lots of networking occurs online nowadays. But there’s no telling what might come from getting out of the office and onto the road. That’s exactly what four Harvard MBA students did in the summer of 2013, driving 8,000 miles across America. The idea was to seek out entrepreneurs in struggling communities who were looking for expert MBA advice, and give it to them. The trip was so successful, and the demand for their know-how so strong, that two of the students, Casey Gerald and Michael Baker, decided to turn their idea into a fully fledged business. Their company specialises in working with entrepreneurs in what Gerald calls ‘cities that were surviving against the odds’.
Is the MBA graduate bound to be a man or a woman in a custom-tailored Italian suit poring over spreadsheets and living in airports? Is he or she supposed to be racking up frequent flyer miles while rising through the ranks of a consulting firm? Some, perhaps, but not all, as Gerald and Baker can testify.
What do you want to do when you grow up? What’s clear is that we don’t always get the right answer, and certainly not immediately. There are a myriad of MBA stories about people finding their professional niche while studying in a business programme. Here’s just one of them. At the age of 18, American Tony Downs reckoned he wanted to be a research chemist. However, he became disillusioned when he experienced the difference between studying a subject and the actual work in the field. It wasn’t a good career fit. But Downs was stubborn and, hoping things would get better, he toughed it out for several years only to become more miserable. He had had an MBA in mind for some time and finally took the plunge by enrolling at the University College Dublin Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. He has learnt a lot about business, and also about himself. Since graduating, Tony has been working as an independent consultant advising on sustainable management growth strategy and company culture. So taking the MBA route could help you find your niche and make you more successful.
Being hired by the company of your dreams
It really can happen. Just six months into his MBA programme, Umesh Tuwari was already exactly where he wanted to be – hired as a technical programme manager at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle on a six-figure salary. Enrolling at Hult International Business School, San Francisco, was a brave move – he had given up a well-paid senior executive position, and there were family considerations to think about too. But the energy, fun, and passion he found in the programme were a revelation, and an early start on his job hunt, some hard work on his CV and LinkedIn profile, and careful listening to career advisors’ feedback led him to Amazon via a networked contact. Umesh said he listened to his heart and took a leap of faith enrolling in Hult’s MBA programme.
Finding a business partner
You might have heard of New York-based Olapic, a company that designs, produces, and builds applications that allow brands and publishers to collect pictures and videos from their audiences. What you might not know is that co-founders Pau Sabria, Luis Sanz, and Jose de Cabo met at Columbia Business School in 2008. There, they developed something that was crucial to their success: trust – a crucial element in most MBA success stories. This fundamental ingredient is easy to nurture in the real world of an MBA programme where you can work on transparency and observe future partners. So, that programme you are thinking of applying for might just be the place you will meet your future business partner!
Each of these MBA stories is a testament to the excitement that awaits the MBA student. Alongside the classes and the assignments there is an array of opportunities just waiting to be grabbed. Anything could happen. Just mix in some effort and imagination and stir!